By C. Coffey
Pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) urged the Obama Administration late Thursday to recommit to improving the US-Israel relationship. In a statement to reporters, AIPAC further urged the administration to accept the sincerity of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The strong public statement, a rarity for the lobby, follows mounting hostility from the White House towards Netanyahu who won a landslide electoral victory earlier this week.
Before the Israeli election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. In response, the Obama Administration indicated that it was considering reversing decades old US policy, and supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a two-state solution.
Today, Netanyahu relaxed his opposition to a Palestinian state. The White House, however, did not relax its opposition to Netanyahu.
According to The New York Times, the White House rejected Netanyahu’s olive branch, and is holding Netanyahu to his pre-election statements. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Netanyahu was “no longer committed to a two-state solution,” which “means that the United States is in a position to re-evaluate our thinking.”
AIPAC issued a quick response, admonishing the White House for its rejection of Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution.
“Unfortunately, administration spokespersons rebuffed the prime minister’s efforts to improve the understandings between Israel and the US,” AIPAC said in its statement. “In contrast to their comments, we urge the administration to further strengthen ties with America’s most reliable and only truly democratic ally in the Middle East.”
AIPAC asked the White House to accept the sincerity of Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution, saying in a written statement “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly and clearly reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Later on Thursday, President Obama called Netanyahu to belatedly congratulate him on his electoral victory.
According to a read-out of the call, “The President and the Prime Minister agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”